Pub­lic ex­am­i­na­tion of the ar­tis­tic doc­toral de­gree of Paola Livorsi

Title of the doctoral project: Human voice and instrumental voice: an investigation of voicelikeness

  • The board which assessed the ​artistic demonstrations: Prof. Dr. Otso Aavanranta (2016-2017, 2022), Dr. Päivi Järviö (2022), Prof. Dr. Mieko Kanno (2016–2020), Prof. emeritus Juhani Liimatainen (2016–2020), Dr. Outi Pulkkinen (2022), Dr. Taina Riikonen (2016–2017), Dr. Kalev Tiits (2016-2022)
  • Examiners of the thesis: Dr. Mareike Dobewall University of the Arts Stockholm, Prof. Dr. Winnie Huang Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln
  • Custos: Prof. Dr. Jan Schacher


11 am

  • Sound installation Haptic Voices. The public will be able to play with sound boxes and listen to a selection of the vocal and instrumental recordings made during the research process.

12 pm

  • Opening of the Public Examination by Custos Prof. Dr. Jan Schacher 
  • Lectio praecursoria 
  • Statement of the thesis 
  • Discussion 
  • Final statements 
  • Audience questions 
  • Conclusion of the public examination 

About voicelikeness

Voicelikeness of human and instrumental voice is a self-observed phenomenon, stemming from my practice of musician and composer. Through five multidisciplinary artistic projects, I approached the question of the manifold relationships between human and instrumental voice from different angles, exploring embodied and relational aspects of voice. I investigated questions of identity, disclosing the multiplicity and interrelationality of any identity process. Through five multidisciplinary projects, I explored the porous boundaries between the roles of composer, performer, and listener. 

Among the results of this research there was an unexpected ‘performative turn’ in my practice; the two last projects each led to a work-in-progress, respectively the duo Plucié d’Orsi, and the video work Medusa’s waters. Finally, the new terms ‘in-hear’ and to ‘co-hear’ respectively denote an attention to inner sounds, and towards one another in a community of listeners. 

Abstract of the thesis

This artistic research explores the relationships between human and instrumental voice (in the case of string instruments), seen from an embodied and performative point of view. The question originates from my experience of violinist and composer. 

Voice is a unique mark of human identity: if this is particularly true for vocal timbre, something similar is at play in the ‘instrumental voice’, as a unique expression of personal and musical identity. This research aims to uncover the importance of this vocal and instrumental relationship, acknowledging their common embodied nature and shared origins. As utterances directed at the ‘other’, both human and instrumental voice are deeply relational. 

From 2016 to 2022, I investigated the question of the voicelikeness between a musician’s voice and their own instrument through five multidisciplinary art projects: in Imaginary Spaces fragments of individual and collective voice inhabited a performative environment shared by musicians and audience; The end of no ending focused on the relationships between two female voices and their mutable surroundings; Between word and life explored the multiple relationships of voice and instrument in an electroacoustic space, de-multiplied by bringing in dance and video; Sounding Bodies gathered human and mechanical bodies to explore an unconventional space, inviting the audience to follow their path; Medusa was a music theatre work putting into perspective the question of voicelikeness by evoking Italian Early Baroque music, visual art, and dance. 

This artistic research was carried out through an artistic process, with supporting methods such as grounded theory, ethnography, and autoethnography, creating a virtuous cycle between practice and theory, with some interesting and unexpected changes taking place in my artistic journey. The research outcomes consist of a written part combined with a collection of traces, sounds, images, and video examples presented in the Research Catalogue. 

The theoretical framework for this inquiry includes recent studies in palaeoanthropology, human development, music psychology, and embodiment. Cavarero’s philosophy of voice, Arendt’s philosophy of the ‘in-between’, various philosophies of the ‘other’, as well as other contributions from psychoanalysis are put in mutual dialogue with my artistic practice. 

Among the research outcomes are the re-evaluation of vocal layers in personal and musical identity, considering music making as a relational practice, and an exploration of the porous boundaries between the roles of composer, performer, and listener. In this perspective, the new terms to ‘in-hear’ and to ‘co-hear’ respectively denote an attention to inner sounds, and towards one another in a community of listeners.

More information

Paola Livorsi

Paola Livorsi (b. 1967) studied piano at the Conservatory of her hometown Alessandria (Italy) in 1978-80, and violin in 1981-1987. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Turin (Italy, 1994) and a Master in Composition from the Conservatory “A. Vivaldi” of Alessandria (1996). She attended masterclasses with Franco Donatoni (Chigiana Summer Academy 1995), György Ligeti (Novara 1996), Ivan Fedele, and Salvatore Sciarrino (IRCAM 1997, 1999). In 1999-2000 she studied electronic music in Paris at CCMIX (Centre de Création Musicale Iannis Xenakis) and IRCAM, and in Helsinki in 1997-98 at the Centre for Music and Technology, with Kaija Saariaho and Jean-Baptiste Barrière. Based in Helsinki since 2001, in 2003 she was invited to Musica nova Helsinki and, on proposal by Kaija Saariaho, to Musik in 21. Jahrhundert, Saarbrücken. In 2004-2005 she was a guest of Tampere Biennale, Time of Music, and Takefu International Music Festival (Japan). In 2007 she was invited by Toshio Hosokawa to März Musik and she was a guest of Biennale di Venezia, and ISCM Göteborg (2009). Over the years, she developed an interest in looking out of the box, starting collaborations with other artists and in diverse contexts. Among her first works of this kind are Rooms of Elements (Forum Box 2006), Self-portraits, silent voices (Wäinö Aaltonen museum Turku 2011), Sense Disorder (Helsinki Taidehalli 2013), and Migramare (Finnish Museum of Photography 2016). She is a founding member of Catalysti Association of Transcultural Artists (2013-). She worked with international ensembles and festivals such as Klangforum Wien, Zagros, Foundation Spinola, Unione Musicale, Milano Musica, Helsinki Chamber Choir, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Uusinta, defunensemble, and Helsinki Opera Festival. She was awarded grants from the Finnish Cultural Foundation, Arts Promotion Centre Finland, Kordelin Foundation, and the Pro Musica prize 2020.

Mannerheimintie renovation project

Access to the Musiikkitalo from the direction of Mannerheimintie will be difficult. We recommend that you allow enough time for your arrival and use the entrance on the side of Kansalaistori if possible. According to current information, the entrance to Mannerheimintie will also remain in use throughout the renovation, but pedestrian routes can be challenging at times.

We recommend following the official information channels of the renovation project, where you can find the most up-to-date information.


28.10.2023 at 12:00 – 15:00


Black Box

Mannerheimintie 13

00100 Helsinki

Helsinki Music Centre

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